Lucas Bjerregaard will take a one-shot lead into the final round at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course as he goes in search of a first European Tour title at the Portugal Masters.
Rounds of 66, 65 and 68 have moved the Dane to 14 under par and given him an excellent platform heading into Sunday, but there are 15 players within four shots of the lead.
A late eagle on the 17th helped to edge South Africa’s George Coetzee into second position at 13 under par, while Nino Bertasio of Italy, Englishman Eddie Pepperell and Scotland’s Marc Warren are all one shot further back.
There’s a six way tie for sixth place with Belgium’s Thomas Detry, Spaniard Nacho Elvira, Joost Luiten of The Netherlands, English Pair Chris Paisley and Graeme Storm and Ashun Wu of China all on 11 under par.
Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium and Sweden’s Sebastien Soderberg are amongst five players at ten under par. Both ended the second round on the cut line but are in touching distance going into the final day after shooting seven under par 64s for the rounds of the day.
Bjerregaard appeared to be on the brink of making his breakthrough in 2015 when he secured four top fives in his last nine events and he was a picture of consistency last term. He has not been able to quite reproduce that form this season and sits 114th in the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, looking for a good finish to the season to keep his playing privileges.
He got his round off and running in Vilamoura with a brilliant approach to the third and holed a 15-foot right-to-lefter on the fifth to hold a one-shot lead at the turn. A nice approach to the tenth handed him a two- shot advantage but when he failed to get up and down on the 11th and found a fairway bunker on the 14th, he was out of top spot.
A huge drive to the front of the par four 15th allowed him to get up and down for a birdie and when he used his length again to birdie the par five 15th, the lead was his once again.
“It was a bit of a battle, the wind was blowing a lot more than the last couple of days and from a bit of a different direction as well. I struggled a bit with that. I didn’t drive the ball nearly as good as the last couple of days, so I didn’t give myself the same chances.
“It was two silly bogies really on quite easy holes. That does hurt a bit, and also to hit a good drive on 12 and not take advantage. I was in a bad place on those couple of holes. I hit a nice chip on 15 to make birdie there and then a nice wedge shot and a good putt on 17 felt really good.
“It’s been a rough year for me, so to be in contention again feels really good. I played well in Switzerland two weeks ago and I’ve been seeing my game go in the right direction the last month or so. To be in contention is great. I’m in a place where I’m still building confidence. This is what we play for, this is where I want to be, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
“I felt like I had a couple of chances so I can’t believe that was my first eagle of the week. It’s nice to get one because I felt like I was a bit under the radar the whole day and not really up on the leader board. It was nice to make a bit of a jump there on the 17th.
“It’s firming up a little and the wind is making it play a little more difficult. Nobody is running away with it just yet. Obviously the 64s are out there, it’s just a question of getting it.”
“Obviously I didn’t play as well as the last couple of days, but it wasn’t easy out there. The first 12 holes it was quite windy and I didn’t make any putts at the beginning, and pretty much all day to be honest.
“I made a bogey on seven, a bogey on nine and started to fall behind quite a bit. Then I made a good birdie on 13 after not making birdie on 12. I had a poor tee shot on 16 which was another bogie and put me again two over par, so it was great to make eagle on 17 and a good four on 18.
“Hopefully I can start off fast tomorrow because guys will be making birdies. I’m just looking forward to going out there and playing the same golf I did the last few days.”
“I basically converted the chances that came my way. I parred all of the par fives though, so I could have gone a bit lower, I think I had a pretty low one in me today.
“On six it was a simple bogie, I missed the green by not much and made four. But I was quite happy with the way I played, I was much more in control of everything. Just little details that made the round go a bit smoother.
“Just to get back somewhere a little bit closer was important. I’ll try to do the same thing tomorrow. We all know that if you give yourself chances and you putt well here, there are always going to be seven, eight, if not nine under every day.”
Round three scores
199 L Bjerregaard (Den) 66 65 68,
200 G Coetzee (RSA) 64 69 67,
201 E Pepperell (Eng) 66 67 68, M Warren (Sco) 67 64 70, N Bertasio (Ita) 65 65 71,
202 T Detry (Bel) 69 65 68, G Storm (Eng) 67 66 69, J Luiten (Ned) 64 68 70, N Elvira (Esp) 66 68 68, A Wu (Chn) 65 70 67, C Paisley (Eng) 70 65 67,
203 P Khongwatmai (Tha) 69 68 66, J Lima (Por) 69 66 68, N Colsaerts (Bel) 69 70 64, S Lowry (Irl) 69 64 70, S Soderberg (Swe) 68 71 64,
204 M Siem (Ger) 70 66 68, J Thomson (Eng) 69 67 68, S Heisele (Ger) 72 66 66,
205 C Syme (Sco) 68 69 68, D Burmester (RSA) 66 67 72, M Armitage (Eng) 71 66 68, S Jamieson (Sco) 68 68 69, J Scrivener (Aus) 65 67 73, J Stalter (Fra) 70 67 68, R Gouveia (Por) 69 67 69, P Harrington (Irl) 67 67 71, F Aguilar (Chi) 69 68 68, V Dubuisson (Fra) 68 68 69, R Knox (Sco) 69 69 67, A Knappe (Ger) 68 68 69,
206 M Wallace (Eng) 69 68 69, B Evans (Eng) 69 70 67, J Campillo (Esp) 67 71 68, E De La Riva (Esp) 69 67 70, R Sterne (RSA) 66 70 70, T Aiken (RSA) 73 63 70, A Chesters (Eng) 67 71 68, D Lingmerth (Swe) 67 69 70,
207 W Ormsby (Aus) 70 68 69, R Langasque (Fra) 71 67 69,
208 J Winther (Den) 69 68 71, S Webster (Eng) 70 69 69, M Pavon (Fra) 70 68 70, R Echenique (Arg) 71 66 71, G Havret (Fra) 65 72 71, A Hansen (Den) 67 70 71, B Dredge (Wal) 68 70 70, H Li (Chn) 70 69 69, T Lewis (Eng) 69 70 69,
209 J Rutherford (Eng) 69 70 70, R Kakko (Fin) 70 69 70, P Lawrie (Sco) 69 69 71, T Olesen (Den) 69 69 71, A Cañizares (Esp) 66 69 74,
210 G Stal (Fra) 74 64 72, D Dixon (Eng) 70 66 74, A Rai (Eng) 69 69 72, A Karlsson (Swe) 69 70 71, D Perrier (Fra) 68 70 72, P Waring (Eng) 73 66 71, C Shinkwin (Eng) 65 73 72,
211 J Edfors (Swe) 71 68 72, N Kimsey (Eng) 73 65 73, T Sinnott (Aus) 71 67 73, M Korhonen (Fin) 72 65 74, D Willett (Eng) 71 65 75, L Canter (Eng) 66 70 75, S Horsfield (Eng) 71 67 73, M Jonzon (Swe) 66 71 74,
212 T Pieters (Bel) 69 70 73, O Fisher (Eng) 67 71 74, A Quiros (Esp) 68 67 77,
213 D Brooks (Eng) 70 69 74,
214 L Slattery (Eng) 69 69 76,